The San Diego State University football team held its 2014 Fan Fest Scrimmage on Saturday afternoon at Qualcomm Stadium.
On a sweltering day at the "Q", the Aztecs' offense looked sharp, but it’s clear that the defense will be the weakness out of the gate for this team. Senior quarterback Quinn Kaehler looked like he picked up right where he left off after taking over the quarterback job midway through last season, going 10-18 for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Kaehler’s first touchdown pass, a 32-yard lob to redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Eric Judge, was deflected by a defender, but then landed safely in the hands of Judge in the back of the end-zone. Kaehler’s other scoring play was a busted coverage by sophomore safety Malik Smith that yielded a long touchdown caught by sophomore wide receiver Lloyd Mills. Even though both of Kaehler’s touchdowns came on fluke plays, he still played great, completing over 50 percent of his passes while not throwing an interception.
To go along with the great play of Kaehler, freshman quarterback Nick Bawden, who was officialy named the backup earlier this week, showed us why he earned that spot. Bawden completed 14 of his 20 passes for 159 yards and one touchdown. Something that stood out was the confidence he showed, especially for a true freshman, and the crispness on his passes. If Kaehler was to get injured at some point in the season, the Aztecs will be left in good hands with Bawden.
Offensive playmakers--likesophomore running back Donnel Pumphrey and senior wide receiver Ezell Ruffin--did not see much playing time in the scrimmage. Ruffin caught one pass for 21 yards early in the game, while Pumphrey was reduced to just receiving punts without contact.
The running game on the afternoon was stagnant, as what the defense lacked in pass coverage, they made up in run stuffing. Junior fullback Dakota Gordon had the most rushing yards, with 34, and they all came on one rush. Junior running back Chase Price looked good, rushing for 33 yards on seven carries, and made his claim for the backup running back role.
Standout redshirt-junior linebacker Jake Fely did not play as he is still rehabbing, and senior cornerback J.J. Whittaker only played a handful of snaps during the scrimmage.
Any Aztec fan knows that the team's worst facet last season was place kicking. Last year’s kicker, junior Seamus McCmorrow, went 1-2 on the day, missing a 42-yarder. His likely replacement for this year, junior transfer Donald Hageman, went 1-1, drilling a 51-yarder through the uprights, which thrilled fans in attendance.
As noted, it was a scorcher at the fan fest, so most spectators, myself included, sought shade as they watched theAztecs play at Qualcomm Stadium for the first time of the 2014 season. Players stayed after the game to sign autographs for their supporters, and other SDSU athletes, such as men’s basketball player Dwayne Polee II, were in attendance to greet fans.
SDSU will open up its season at home against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks on August 30 at 4:00 PM PT. The game can be seen on CBS Sports Network.